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The Guardian: Fresh voices: 50 writers you should read now
Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for new writers
A Times Children’s Book of the Week
A Guardian Top Teen Read of 2015
“Happy birthday, Stanly. We hope you like your present…”
Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird is a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his best friend is a talking beagle named Daryl, and that he gained the powers of flight and telekinesis when he turned sixteen.
Unfortunately, his rural Welsh home town is not exactly crying out for its very own superhero. London is calling – but what Stanly finds there is a good deal weirder and more terrifying than anything he could have imagined. Perhaps he should have stayed in Wales …
‘I raced through it like I was reading a comic book.’ —Cerys Matthews
‘Into what seems to be a very real and familiar world, Stefan Mohamed introduces a 16-year-old superhero and his even more remarkable dog. All kinds of crazy, amorous and criminal adventures ensue, but our author's vivid imagination, story-telling power, humour and mastery of punchy dialogue ensure that we eagerly hang on throughout this refreshingly original novel.’ —Professor Peter Stead
‘Thoroughly enjoyable, very funny and touching, with a really great central character in Stanly.’ —Justin Kerrigan
‘Stefan Mohamed really stands out from the crowd – a delightfully funny, surreal and original new voice with a great storytelling gift.’ —Andrew Davies
‘★★★★ This sparky debut puts the classic comic book origin story through the pop-cultural blender by gifting superpowers to a kid who just happens to be a massive sci-fi geek. For Smallville, substitute Tref-y-Celwyn, the mid-Welsh town where vowel-deficient teenage loner Stanly suddenly discovers a talent for flight and telekinesis. Accompanied by a potty-mouthed beagle (just go with it), Stanly up, ups and aways to London, where he throws his lot in with a bunch of Generation X-Men investigating a series of sinister child abductions. Zippy prose keeps the story barrelling along, the genre references come thick and fast (even the dog a Yoda impression does) and, in Stanly, Mohamed has created a hero you’ll really root for. A flying start.’ —Paul Kirkley, SFX Magazine
‘★★★★☆ Bitter Sixteen was an engaging, funny and heartwarming coming of age story that took tried-and-true tropes in new directions. Mohamed’s Stanly at first seems familiar: a geeky teen with few friends who is constantly bullied in school, discovers on his sixteenth birthday that he can levitate and move objects with only his mind. But Stanly has to work hard to figure out how to use his powers, which don’t come easily. Add in the bestest side-kick ever – a talking beagle named Daryl – and you have a winning combination for a story.’ —Tammy Sparks, Books Bones & Buffy
‘★★★★★ The plot is an absolute page turner – it is hard not to like Stanly, and Daryl (the talking dog) becomes an immediately likeable presence. The plot moves in a way that may seem relatively formulaic for those who have read a lot of Superhero tales, but the twists here are stonkingly big, and always surprising, making this a very fresh and original read. In addition, the villain is truly chilling – and one who I would love to see portrayed on screen.’ —Luke Marlowe, The Book Bag
‘★★★★ If you know your Calrissian from your Kobayashi, then YA novel Bitter Sixteen is the most fun you can have in the superhero genre...’ —Aliya Whiteley, Den of Geek
‘Children’s Book of the Week: Never mind writing about superpowers, debut author Stefan Mohamed clearly has them himself – he’s produced a highly original novel for young adults that is clever and funny, with character you want to ask home afterwards.’ —Alex O’Connell, The Times
‘It’s part superhero fantasy, part comedy, with an underlying love story and a creepy twist in the tail, all served up with panache, pace and punch.’ —Sally Morris, The Daily Mail
‘Mohamed’s first novel is a thoroughly entertaining, charming and witty take on the crowded superhero subgenre.’ —Eric Brown, The Guardian
Synopsis The Guardian: Fresh voices: 50 writers you should read now Stanly is frustrated. Having set himself up as London’s protector, he’s finding that the everyday practicalities of superheroism are...
Synopsis The Guardian: Fresh voices: 50 writers you should read now Cynical, solitary Stanly Bird used to be a fairly typical teenager – unless you count the fact that his...